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Monday, February 6, 2017

Denis Shapovalov's anger robs Canada of Davis Cup

Anger is “one short of” Danger **

Not sure, whether you followed Tennis and Davis Cup in particular.  India competed in its first Davis Cup in 1921 but is yet to win the Cup. India finished runners-up 3 times (1966, 1974, 1987). In 1974, the final was scratched and South Africa were awarded the Davis Cup after India refused to participate in the final due to the South African government's apartheid policies.

India’s Davis Cup Group I tie against New Zealand seemed pretty straightforward  when you read the final result of  4-1 in India’s favour. India dominated all four singles rubbers. Bhambri, not six months into his return from injury, impressed in the opener, setting the tone winning 6-4,6-4,6-3.  Leander Paes’ hopes of creating a world record in Davis Cup were dashed when the veteran Indian and Vishnu Vardhan lost the third rubber to strong rivals Artem Sitak and Michael Venus, who kept the New Zealand alive in the Asia-Oceania Group I Davis Cup tie.  Down 0-2 after losing the first two singles to the home team, Sitak and Venus rallied to take a convincing 3-6 6-3 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 win in 2 hours and 30 minutes. The defeat for Paes and his partner meant that the 43-year-old Indian stalwart could not overtake Italian Nicola Pietrangeli for most wins in doubles in Davis Cup history. The two players are tied on 42 wins.

Way back in 1991 in a Duleep Trophy final between West Zone and North Zone, Rashid Patel aimed a bouncer (this time with a stump) at Raman Lamba’s head.  Lamba, who scored 180 was on the run ~ then it became a matter before a Delhi High Court.  Both of them were banned for a few months – there have been some spars on the field – none as worse as this one at Bangladesh, where a  teenage cricketer has died from horrific neck injuries after an angry batsman hurled a stump at him.  It is reported that despite efforts to save him, 14-year-old Faisal Hossain died from his injuries in the southeastern port city of Chittagong.

Police said the batsman flew into a rage after he was given out during a friendly game between neighbourhood teams. The batsman was furious  when got out,  grabbed a stump and threw it in the air. The stump hit part of the neck and head of Faisal who was fielding close to the wicket.  It is reported that angry actions are common on field over there and last May, a batsman wielding a stump allegedly beat a 16-year-old cricketer to death in Dhaka after the teenager taunted the umpire over a no-ball delivery.

Back to Tennis (Davis Cup again) - Great Britain's Davis Cup first round ended in sensational fashion on Sunday night, victory achieved through a sudden default after the umpire was hospitalised due to being hit in the face by a ball.

Canada's teenage star Denis Shapovalov wrote his name into the competition's 117-year history by handing a 3-2 victory to GB with a flash of temper that could have ended in serious injury.  Kyle Edmund was already well in control of the deciding rubber when his opponent, the reigning Wimbledon junior champion, hit French umpire Arnaud Gabas flush in the left eye when he angrily smashed the ball away from mid court. Having just been broken to trail 6-3 6-4 2-1, Shapovalov – 17 and tipped as a potential Grand Slam winner - could not contain himself and was issued with an immediate default to confirm Britain's place in the quarter finals.

Britain will now face France away in early April with the hope that Andy Murray, who absented himself after his Australian Open disappointment, will be back. A crestfallen Shapovalov afterwards immediately sought out Gabas to apologise, before the umpire was taken to hospital for a check-up. He was said by an International Tennis Federation spokesperson to have 'swelling and bruising around his left eye'. In line with his reputation as a 'great kid' – as described by his Captain Martin Laurendeau – Shapovalov swiftly fronted up with a public apology. It seemed he had been trying to hit the ball into the net, but miscued horribly. Blinking back tears he said: 'I feel incredibly embarrassed and ashamed and feel awful for letting my team and my country down. I want to apologise to the umpire and referee, it was unacceptable from me. That is the last time I'm going to do anything like that, I'm going to learn from it.'

Referee Brian Earley, who does the same job at the US Open, had come onto the court to talk to the umpire and Captains, and had no alternative but to immediately disqualify the player. There was a degree of booing from the 6,000 strong crowd, but replays showed there was simply no option. Defaults are rare in tennis and this was the highest profile example since David Nalbandian kicked out at a line judge in the final of the 2012 Queen's tournament. Perhaps there was more of a parallel with the incident involving a young Tim Henman at Wimbledon 1995, when he was disqualified for pole-axeing a ballgirl when swatting a ball away into her chest, also by accident.

Firing balls into the crowd has been the subject of controversy in tennis over the last twelve months, with many feeling that Novak Djokovic, a repeat offender, has been dealt with leniently for several contraventions. The Canadian Shapovalov  lashed the ball away, unintentionally in the direction of the umpire and would rue it for ever !  - now read the first line again !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
6th Feb 2017.

Excerpted from

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